West High’s Evan Flitz looks for a receiver against Cedar Rapids Washington on Friday. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports.By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
With a full regular season under their belts Michael Conlon and Evan Flitz moved past the first-game jitters a couple of months ago.
Any concerns about those nerves coming back to the surface for the two first-year signal callers in their UNI-Dome debuts this week were short lived.
Conlon and Flitz both sparkled in their first semifinal starts last week lifting their teams to this week’s title games.
Flitz completed 19-of-26 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in a 35-7 win over fourth-ranked Cedar Rapids Washington in the Class 4A semifinals.
“I had the Dome adrenaline running through me,” Flitz said. “Our weapons on the outside got open and I got some easy completions and it really calmed me down.”
The West High junior signal caller tossed scoring strikes of 34, 22 and 2 yards to lead the Trojans to the 4A title game for the first time since 1999.
His 34-yard touchdown to Oliver Martin tied the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter.
Flitz directed a perfectly executed two-minute drill to end the half, leading a 10-play, 57-yard scoring drive in 96 seconds that ended with a 2-yard toss to Devontae Lane that put West High up for good at 14-7.
Will Peterson sacks Washington quarterback Bryan Kunde. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports. “That drive was huge because we knew that after that it was a new ball game,” Flitz said. “That gave us all the momentum at halftime.”
Conlon was equally impressive in his first start under center in a semifinal, directing Regina to a 42-6 win over third-ranked Denver.
The junior completed 16-of-24 passes for 285 yards and three scores as Regina returned to the state title game for the seventh consecutive season.
“I wasn’t any more nervous today than I was for any other game,” Conlon said. “I just thought of it as another game.”
Conlon connected with Jack Jensen for a 72-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter that gave Regina a 7-0 lead and was the first of three, 1-play touchdown drives for the Regals.
“That calmed me down a lot with Jack making that play,” Conlon said. “It’s just a hitch so you aren’t expecting a ton out of it and he turned it into a big play and that really got our momentum going.”
Conlon added touchdown tosses for 49 yards to Noah Felderman and 21 yards to Trae Rogers in the win.
One More Time: What has been an incredible prep career for West High receiver Oliver Martin will come to a close on Friday.
It will end as one of the best for any pass catcher in state history.
Martin has set career highs in receptions (83) and receiving yards (1,245) this season while matching his career-high with 14 touchdown grabs.
The 6-1, 195-pound Martin now has 237 career receptions for 3,422 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Over the past two seasons Martin has a touchdown catch in 18 of 23 games and has had more than 100 receiving yards 15 times after catching eight passes for 117 yards and two scores in the semifinals on Friday.
Playoff Avengers: Reaching the state title game is always rewarding but the path that West High has taken to the 4A championship comes with a little extra sense of satisfaction.
With consecutive postseason wins over Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids Prairie and Cedar Rapids Washington the Trojans have successful avenged every playoff loss for the program in the past five seasons.
West High had its season end with losses to Bettendorf in 2011, 2013 and 2015 and lost playoff games to Prairie (2012) and Washington (2014) during that stretch.
You have to go all the way back to an opening round loss to North Scott in 2010 to find the last playoff opponent that West High hasn’t defeated on its run to the 4A title game.
Bag of Tricks: Regina always seems to have an exotic play stowed away for the UNI-Dome and they always seem to work. Saturday’s double reverse pass was no exception.
Conlon handed off to Isaac Vollstedt on a sweep who pitched the ball to a receiver on a reverse.
The receiver tossed it back to Conlon who launched a pass to a wide open Felderman for a 49-yard touchdown that put Regina up 21-0.
“You know when they call your number you have to make plays,” Felderman said. “I saw the corner bite on the reverse and I knew I just had to catch the ball.”
Offensive player of the week: Flitz and Conlon take top honors after directing their teams to state title games.
Runner-up: West High senior running back Devontae Lane rushed for 65 yards and two touchdowns and also caught a 2-yard touchdown pass in the Trojans semifinal win.
Defensive player of the week: Everyone in green and gold deserves a pat on the back after West High held Cedar Rapids Washington to seven points and 146 total yards in a semifinal win.
Junior Dillon Doyle led West High with 8.5 tackles while Tom Adolph, Quinn Baker, Landon Green and Will Peterson all had sacks and Nick Kean picked off a pass.
Runner-up: The entire Regina defensive line gets the nod after leading a defensive effort that limited third-ranked Denver to 105 rushing yards, 240 yards below its season average.
Senior defensive end Jared Brinkman had 1.5 sacks in his 4.5 tackles while senior tackle Reagan Ries had three solo stops and senior end Andrew Hingst had 5.5 tackles and forced a fumble.